Google’s New Instant Previews Could Actually Change the SEO Landscape

November 11th, 2010

In a move that many SEO writers are heralding with a “what took them so long” attitude, Google announced recently its “Instant Previews” feature. By rolling your mouse over any search result, a large, readable representation of the corresponding page appears down the right column.

This feature, says Danny Sullivan at, “seems promising, another way to save time in the searching process.” Sullivan says Instant Previews appears to be designed to prevent “pogosticking”—the practice of clicking from a search listing to a page, and clicking back to the search results if you don’t find what you want.

So, how does this change the SEO landscape? Significantly. Initial reactions from critics say Instant Previews “could actually alter how businesses approach online search rankings.” Here’s why: by making it faster and easier to find the page you’re looking for, searching on Google has suddenly made a dramatic shift from what the descriptive copy says to what the page actually looks like. In other words, the design of your page could have a huge influence on whether anyone ever clicks on it or not.

This means company colors, logos, positioning, etc. could all take on a new importance when the results are there to pop up in comparison to the other results on a page. And you know what they say about first impressions.

Think about this for a minute. Let’s say you’re number three in a search result. Someone rolls their mouse over the two results above you and doesn’t like what they see. If your site is visually more pleasing than the first two, you could get the click, even if you don’t necessarily have what the person was looking for.

While this chain of events probably has your company art directors jumping for joy, this really could be the most significant change that Google has come up with in a long time. It will be interesting to see how advertisers, their marketing agencies and their SEO companies react.

It’s time to take a look at your website, folks – not so much for what it says, but for what it shows.


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